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Old August 9th, 2017, 05:33 AM   #1
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Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

On August 12th we'll be attending a family wedding ceremony and they would like it if I shot some video.

The only gear I've got along with me is an AX-53, AX-100, a Sennheiser ME-66, and a Tascam DR-44WL recorder, only one light-weight borrowed tripod plus a few miscellaneous parts. It'll be more like I'll be a guest walking around with a cam and not like a hired professional doing a shoot so my plan is to be semi-incognito. Hopefully I can combine getting some shots while at the same time acting as a guest, if that can be possible.

Rain is forecasted at the venue so it'll most likely be indoors with around 130 guests. I'm trying to get more information about the room it'll be in and the table layout (two rows of tables end-to-end with the cake table at the far end crosswise, or, large round table with about 8 chairs per table and not much of an aisle. My. guess, and hope is the former, with space between the walls and the tables for people and wait staff to walk.

Video
This is a very important event with the highlight part lasting only a matter of minutes. In the video, one would like to see the cake and the couple (faces), but how to do this without blocking the view of everyone else? Shoot, say, from the side of the room toward the groom while he cuts the cake, but then when he gives a piece to the bride one sees the back of the bride’s head. So shoot from the other side? Have a cam at the far end of the room and go with the B-cam handheld from the side of the room? How do single shooters do this?

Audio
A really tough problem. My plan was to put the mic with the recorder on the tripod. I made up a support to put the two together and run the recorder via wi-fi remote using an iPhone and the Tascam app. The app allows one to see the VU meters, turn the recorder as well as individual channels On and Off, and adjust the gain of any of the tracks on the fly.

In my first test with the mic I had the db average set at -12db but upon transferring the file to the computer it was found that the signal was way too weak. Then I increased the gain so it hardly ever clipped and the file signal was nice. After dialing in the VU levels before the shoot the plan is to engage the Limiter function to handle the peaks and then just concentrate on shooting the video. Recording set to *.wav format, 16 bit 44.1k mono.

The Tascam and the cams have their time codes synced within a second or two and fresh batteries in everything.

Tripod
This is a sad situation. I will try to borrow another tripod for the fixed cam to support the AX-100. The cam has a remote that can do a few basic functions but probably only useful for On and Off. Unfortunately, the little red light can't be seen very well from more than about 10 to 20 feet so don't know what to do there. Just be v e r y careful when using it? Or just let the cam run and cut in post?

It may be possible that a tripod might not be allowed at the far end of the room between the two rows of tables as the wait staff might trip over it. This is assuming it will be the two-row table setup. I'll need to think of a.Plan-B. The tripod I borrowed doesn't go up very high and if I buy a cheap one somewhere it probably won't go up very high, either.

Can't go home for more gear 'cuz it's too late. Renting anything is out of the question. So, what thoughts do people have about this approach? Open for ideas but time is running out.
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Old August 9th, 2017, 07:02 AM   #2
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

The situation here is a little different as the B&G generally don't feed each other cake, it's very usual for the photographer to get them prior to the meal and do the cake cutting while it's quiet in the ballroom/dining room.

I usually tag along at this time and do a sort of fly past hand-held with a AX53 or similar, getting them to follow the cam with their eyes as it goes by and maybe kiss half way through. Perhaps you could get something that resembles the cake and set the shot up like that?

Your locked off cam will probably get blocked with people trying to capture with phones/tablets etc. so your left then in one position with the AX53

Other than that get out in front get the shot and apologise profusely to everyone after.

Are you recording the speeches? you'll need something other than hand holding to do that, it's very difficult to hand hold for more than a few minutes.

I use the Ctrl with Smart Phone feature on one of my AX100's for most events and once activated you can control with smart phone/tablet and turn on/off recording, monitor the feed and also control your zoom.

I've had success in locating a AX100 on the bandstand and it covered the top table nicely, all depends on the location obviously.

good luck anyway
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Old August 9th, 2017, 08:54 AM   #3
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

You haven't mentioned a photographer, but I assume they are having one. If so, liase wth him/her to find out what they will be doing. Usually with the cake cutting, the photographer will want to be right at the front taking priority over the guests for the cake shot as he is being paid to get a good shot. He will then move out of the way for the guests, so a quick chat with him should enable you to work alongside him.

Speeches tend to be handled differently in the US, but I wouldn't worry too much about being towards the front, as a quick word with any guests you may block, will enable them to be able to move enough to see around you. They are always very obliging providing you chat to them first and look confident:-)

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Old August 9th, 2017, 08:55 AM   #4
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Cantwell View Post
The situation here is a little different as the B&G generally don't feed each other cake, it's very usual for the photographer to get them prior to the meal and do the cake cutting while it's quiet in the ballroom/dining room.
Very interesting. I'm trying to contact a person at the venue to ask them questions. The weather forecast just changed from rain to sunny so everything might be moved outside and on the lawn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Cantwell View Post
I usually tag along at this time and do a sort of fly past hand-held with a AX53 or similar, getting them to follow the cam with their eyes as it goes by and maybe kiss half way through. Perhaps you could get something that resembles the cake and set the shot up like that?
Some good thoughts. Isn't that '53 good for handheld stuff?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Cantwell View Post
Your locked off cam will probably get blocked with people trying to capture with phones/tablets etc. so your left then in one position with the AX53

Other than that get out in front get the shot and apologise profusely to everyone after.
Ahh ... I like that. In Ireland is that something like Mea Culpa?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Cantwell View Post
Are you recording the speeches? you'll need something other than hand holding to do that, it's very difficult to hand hold for more than a few minutes.
Hadn't thought about that, actually. Given how much banquet time is allocated there probably will be some. Seems like a good job for the locked off cam and mic.

I've got enough AA batteries but for the cams only one OEM and one Wasabi "Power" battery each. The power is in quotes because while these were advertised as having more Ahr than the OEM, they don't. In fact, I'd guesstimate something more like half. Everything will be fully charged the morning of, and I'll have to come up with a shooting time per activity and see how it computes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Cantwell View Post
I use the Ctrl with Smart Phone feature on one of my AX100's for most events and once activated you can control with smart phone/tablet and turn on/off recording, monitor the feed and also control your zoom.
Seems to me I remember reading one of your posts about that. What is the "Ctrl"? Wasn't that a windows only app? There have been some really good apps coming out in the marketplace.
What a difference a couple years makes in video ... we're starting to get really wired!

Last edited by John Nantz; August 9th, 2017 at 08:57 AM. Reason: Added "each" (for each cam) to battery comment
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Old August 9th, 2017, 09:24 AM   #5
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

It's a good option if you can do a staged cake cut etc. less pressure!

the BOSS system on any of the Sonys is great I have a AX53 and a PJ790 they're great for flying the cam hand-held at the wide end it's perfect.

:-) yeah it's Mea Culpa..... you get the shot and I agree with what Roger advises during the cake cutting just shadow the photographer.

with the speeches you can probably have the locked of cam for one angle and use the 53 as a B Roll for a few different angles.

To control the AX100 or the AX53 you'll need to download Sony PlayMemories Mobile from Google Play/App Store to your phone or tablet then you can select the 'Ctrl with Smartphone' Wireless feature in the camera's menu to monitor and control some functions on the camera.
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Old August 9th, 2017, 09:31 AM   #6
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

Roger -
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
You haven't mentioned a photographer, but I assume they are having one. If so, liase wth him/her to find out what they will be doing. Usually with the cake cutting, the photographer will want to be right at the front taking priority over the guests for the cake shot as he is being paid to get a good shot. He will then move out of the way for the guests, so a quick chat with him should enable you to work alongside him.
Forgetting the Photographer? Mea Culpa und pardon moi.

Yes, there will be a paid photographer there and due to my lowly unpaid status I plan to do everything to stay out of his/her shots, and touching base early on is a good PR idea.

Thanks for the suggestion.

On the speeches, they'll probably be using a PA system given the number of guests and if it is moved back outdoors. I'm trying to get ahold of the wedding coordinator to ask questions but haven't received a reply back yet. Still trying to round up a second tripod.
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Old August 9th, 2017, 09:33 AM   #7
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

How do you intend using your audio resource for speeches? if they're from a lectern I'd suggest getting the tascam on the lectern, you'll need to get a mic as close as possible to get decent audio or maybe see if you can plug into the venue's board.

The best way to keep out of the photographers frame is to stay a pace or so behind them.

cheers
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Old August 9th, 2017, 10:10 AM   #8
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

Good advice from Rob and I would also add that taking a tap of the soundboard can be very good but can also be disastrous if the sound guy doesn't know how to set up the feed, something that is quite common with venue controlled sound. As a backup I put a separate recorder close to one of the PA speakers and always have a recorder with pzm or lav mic on the head table in the flowers, or on the lectern which I believe is more common over the pond. The other problem with handheld wireless mics is that many people either have it on their mouth and overload it or too far away and you can't hear it, so a table/lectern recorder will save it in those instances.

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Old August 9th, 2017, 10:41 AM   #9
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

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Originally Posted by Rob Cantwell View Post
How do you intend using your audio resource for speeches? if they're from a lectern I'd suggest getting the tascam on the lectern, you'll need to get a mic as close as possible to get decent audio or maybe see if you can plug into the venue's board.
Well, the first answer to the question is "I don't know" because I hadn't thought about it before. The mic/recorder package will be on a tripod so maybe setting it up several feet in front of where the speaker will be, assuming they speak from the same location, would work.

I could watch the VU meters on the phone and adjust them for the different speakers if needed. If they [the speakers] move out of the mic "window", well .... that's tough. Maybe the safety track could help combined with some post recovery work but it might be too far away. By using the iPhone monitor the safety track could be boosted and since the Tascam mics are more omni that might help. It's good to be thinking of all of these possibilities before the big day.

On another subject but somewhat related, I was wondering what anyone thought about the recording settings for the ME-66 being set to *.wav format, 16 bit 44.1k mono and stereo for the safety track. There is only a small microSD card that came wth it as there hasn't been time to buy a new one. Also, I just discovered I forgot to pack the furry windscreen for it but do have a Rycote windshield softie for the ME-66.

Last edited by John Nantz; August 9th, 2017 at 03:58 PM.
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Old August 9th, 2017, 01:55 PM   #10
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

How about something different like a shot from above with camera and mic on amonopod?
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Old August 9th, 2017, 04:15 PM   #11
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

Jim - good thinking out of the box. The monopod is at home ... but, I have done something like that very briefly using the whole tripod. Have a K-Tek 9-ft pole at home that would be really good for that.

Just spent a lot of time today looking for a used tripod but it's a hassle. Decided to just buy a new one tomorrow, nothing fancy, just to hold the mic and recorder, then get on with the other details.
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Old August 10th, 2017, 04:58 AM   #12
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

Update: Just took care of the need for a second tripod for the mic and recorder so just bought one. Picked up another memory card for the recorder so lots of file storage space there. I feel I'm covered on those fronts now.

Still no word from the wedding coordinator nor anyone else at the venue.
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Old August 10th, 2017, 05:56 AM   #13
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

Quote:

"On another subject but somewhat related, I was wondering what anyone thought about the recording settings for the ME-66 being set to *.wav format, 16 bit 44.1k mono and stereo for the safety track..."

It is important to record at 48k, not 44.1k. Reason being that you will have syncing issues when you try to match up the recorder audio with the video clips in post if recorded at 44.1k. I can't really explain the science behind this, but that is what needs to be adhered to.

Does the recorder allow you to change the recording format of the main audio and/or the safety track?

Kind regards,

Bryan

Last edited by Bryan Quarrie; August 10th, 2017 at 06:58 AM.
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Old August 10th, 2017, 08:04 AM   #14
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

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Still no word from the wedding coordinator nor anyone else at the venue.
Welcome to the wonderful world of weddings. :}
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Old August 10th, 2017, 02:02 PM   #15
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Re: Request suggestions for Wedding Cake Cutting

Bryan -
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Quarrie View Post
Quote:

"On another subject but somewhat related, I was wondering what anyone thought about the recording settings for the ME-66 being set to *.wav format, 16 bit 44.1k mono and stereo for the safety track..."

It is important to record at 48k, not 44.1k. Reason being that you will have syncing issues when you try to match up the recorder audio with the video clips in post if recorded at 44.1k. I can't really explain the science behind this, but that is what needs to be adhered to.
Thanks for commenting on this. Sure don't need more "issues" so I bumped it up to 48k.

Battery operation time for 4ch (and I'm only doing 3ch), *.wav 44.1k and 16 bit is listed as 13.5 hours, and that is way more than I'd do.

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Originally Posted by Bryan Quarrie View Post
Does the recorder allow you to change the recording format of the main audio and/or the safety track?
Read through the Recording section of the Reference Manual (download D01238020C) and couldn't find anything about being able to make different settings for channels 1 & 2 and 3 &/or 4. So it seems that one setting sets everything the same. There are a lot of menu controls and it takes time to sort through everything. This Manual is 62 pages long, small print, and has lots of "Notes" so it may be possible.

Every improvement helps so thanks very much for the reply on this.
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